Athlete of the Week: The height of success

Clarkston News Sports Writer
Senior Matt Nicholson is one of five finalists selected by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan for the 40th Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award.
The 7-foot-1 center has helped the Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball team win another OAA Red league title and been a threat for opponents in scoring, rebounding and blocking. He has had five triple-doubles this season. He had 13 points, 17 rebounds and 14 blocks against Ferndale and 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks against North Farmington.

Matt Nicholson looks for an opportunity to pass in the Wolves’ win over Ferndale. Photo by Larry Wright

Nicholson signed his letter of intent in the fall to continue playing basketball for Northwestern University.
He explained he knew it was the right place for him for many reasons. The top reason was the academics which is important to Nicholson and his family. Also, the family environment within the basketball program.
“The team is like a family,” Nicholson said. “They all rely on each other. They can hold each other accountable. Also, playing in the Big Ten,which is one of the top six conferences, is going to push me and help me get better in basketball. I thought it was the best way for me to improve.”
He is undecided on his major but knows he will go into the math or science fields.
Nicholson currently has a 3.7 grade point average and is taking AP Physics and AP Stats to help prepare him for Northwestern. He is also in band and taking French 5.
He explained there’s a perception if someone is an athlete, they can’t be in band or take five years of a language.
“If you want to do it, you will find a way of doing it,” he said.
Nicholson began playing basketball in second grade as a way to bond with his older brother, Michael.
“As a little brother you want to be doing what your older brother is doing,” Matt smiled. “I would be outside with him getting rebounds. It’s how it started out. Then, I started to develop into basketball. It just went on from there.”
Michael came back from playing college basketball with Lake Superior State University after graduating in 2018 and is now the head coach for the Clarkston Boys JV Basketball team.
“Last year he was back,” said Matt. “He helped me a lot. He came in and worked with me before practice and after practice. He showed me tips. He talks to me when I am on the bench now that he is one of the coaches. He has helped me a lot throughout the season.”
Matt added what he enjoys about basketball is no two games are the same and there is always room to improve.
“It’s always changing and you can always improve somewhere in the game,” he said. “You can always be better and there is always someone better. It pushes you to be better.”
His advice to aspiring athletes is do what you love.
“Basketball isn’t for everyone,” Matt said. “But if it is, find some guys who also love the game, just play and get better with them. Some of my best friends are from basketball.”
He added he and the other two seniors on the team, Cole Donchez and Trenton Church, will be friends for life.
“We will be there for each other – always,” Mike said. “It’s just what basketball does – it builds a family bond. I grew up, played AAU basketball with them, stayed in hotels with them. Sometimes seeing them for a whole month straight every day. They are like brothers.”
The winner for Mr. Basketball will be announced on March 23.

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